So excited that I’m sharing part 2 of the “Things I Learned After Accepting My First Job” series! Today’s post is focusing ALL around interviewing. I really don’t even think I cover half the stuff about interviewing, but hopefully you see this as a good start. AND hopefully you make sure to reach out with any questions/feedback. I’m here to help, really! Okay…keep reading and let me know what you think, thanks!
Attire: So my “business casual” attire that lasted me through college wasn’t exactly going to cut it in New York City, and as my mom always says, if you look good, you do good! Since most college graduates don’t have tons of money to spend on multiple interview outfits, the best advice I have is to get a few pieces that you can mix and match. I made the mistake of only having one interview outfit. I then found myself in a real crunch during the interview process because the companies/firms I was interviewing with scheduled follow-up interviews the next day and I only had my one outfit. Luckily I was able to find something for the next day after getting back from interviewing in the city, but it wasn’t easy!
Bring Extra: This might be obvious, but always make sure to have plenty of extra copies of your resumé/references list. I luckily had extra copies with me for each of my interviews, but that was only because I am always over prepared. I didn’t realize that if a company/firm really likes you then they’ll probably bring out other people to meet you/see if you’re the right fit for the position. So don’t just bring 1 resumé thinking that you’re meeting with 1 person, bring 3-4 resumeés expecting to rock that interview and meet with some other people.
Schedule: Learn from my mistake: don’t schedule interviews back to back! I was pressured by a staffing agency to schedule two interviews back-to-back; my morning interview ran so long that I completely missed my second interview. Oh well! So here are a few things to consider to avoid this… the area you’re interviewing in can influence the amount of time an interview will take, but then again it’s not a clear science. My interviews in NYC ranged from less than 20 minutes to over 3 hours. So it varies. But with that being said, you can’t compare how 2 interviews went if one was 2 hours long at a suburban office and the other was 15 minutes in a big city. I started the interview process thinking the typical interview lasted 1 hour, and actually that might still hold some weight, but just don’t be shocked if it goes over or under that expected time. Actually, let me expand upon that, there is no such thing as a typical interview. I repeat, there is no “normal” interview. While I’m sitting here writing vague guidelines to try to help your process along, you never know what to expect until you walk through the door. That might be the best, most unexpected tidbit to take from this whole blog post. Anyway! Back to whatever I was saying before, try not to schedule two interviews on the same day, unless your first interview is at 9am, then you can probably get away with a 3pm one as well.
Questions: While the questions are obviously going to differ between companies, here are some things you should definitely be prepared to talk about: strengths/weaknesses (***This one I was asked at all my interviews), the kind of people you like to work with, if you’ve worked with difficult people and how you handled that, a time you dealt with a difficult situation and how you overcame it, something you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of…I think those are the most common questions, at least that I can think of right now. If you want to brainstorm some answers (especially to the strengths and weaknesses question) and send them my way I’d be more than happy to give you some feedback!
Round Two: If you get past the first interview then you’ll want to be prepared to discuss some other things in the next round (or two). 1) Salary– be prepared to discuss how much you want to make. Don’t sell yourself short! Know what you’re worth and be willing to ask for it. The exact words I used were, “I am looking to make XXX or as close to XXX as possible.” 2) Transportation- if you’re taking public transportation for your commute then it doesn’t hurt to ask for the company to pay for some of all of these expenses. They can always say no, and that’s the worst that can happen. Best scenario is you save lots of money! 3) Days off- if you always have vacations planned make sure you mention this! I only mentioned one of the trips that I had flights booked for, but since I had to start my job immediately I wasn’t able to make the two road trips to visit family that I’d planned. If I’d mentioned those two other trips in my interview though, I might have been granted the time off or allowed to start working later. Also! Make sure you find out how many days off you accumulate per month of working there. I wish I had asked this before starting rather than after I’d been working there a few months.
Common Sense: your phone disappears from the moment you walk through the doors of wherever you’re interviewing. Or for good measure, it disappears ten steps before the front door. But you get the point, right? Don’t be sitting in the waiting room on your phone. You’ll look like a millennial (in the bad way, yes, you know what I mean). Instead, read a magazine sitting on the coffee table in the waiting room, or watch the TV, or just take a moment to rehearse your prepared answers to the most-likely-to-be-asked questions I mentioned above.
Manicured: And here’s one last piece of advice (for all the ladies reading this) make sure to go into your interview with a fresh manicure. No chipped polish! No matter the job, employers want to hire a candidate that is detail oriented and pays attention no matter how small something might seem. It might sound silly to be so focused on whether your nails look good or not, but if they don’t look good it can be distracting and it also sends the wrong message! With regards to what color you should have them painted for an interview, I would suggest doing a neutral or light pink, but as long as the color isn’t an in your face Pepto-Bismol pink or glitter or black then you’re probably fine!
Outfit details below!
Please, please, please feel free to reach out with any questions/comments/feedback!
the scoop: not much to say about this outfit, except this dress is everything!! So so comfy and classic and easy for work. Also, these two-tone pumps are really on trend right now, I linked 2 very similar ones at 2 different price points, so make sure you check them out!